Gibsons Ryan Dempster will be pitching in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field this season.
Dempster signed a one-year deal with a club option for 2005 with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
The deal will pay him $300,000 in 2004, has a $2 million base for 2005, with a $200,000 buyout. The contract also has a number of other incentives.
The 26-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 4 on his right elbow and won't be able to pitch until August.
When reached on Thursday in Denver, Colorado, where Dempster has his off-season home, he said he can't wait to be a part of the Cubs.
"We've been talking for quite a while, but I've been keeping things quiet in case it didn't happen," Dempster said. "The Cubs are willing to take a risk to get a big reward. For me, I think they gain something big, which is a healthy Ryan Dempster.
"I'm completely thrilled and excited to be a part of it."
Dempster joins a pitching staff that includes the likes of Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Matt Clement and Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs are also said to be making a serious run for free agent pitcher Greg Maddux.
"The Cubs have a tremendous pitching staff," Dempster said. "When you have those guys going to the hill every day and a line-up behind you with Moises Alou, Sammy Sosa and Derek Lee, it gives you so much confidence. It's going to be great playing for a manager like Dusty Baker and just playing in Chicago. I love the city and the fans are some of the best in baseball."
Dempster added that it's going to be fun playing with Sosa rather than pitching against him.
"It means I can stop giving up home runs to him," Dempster said.
Dempster had a bone chip and a torn ulnar collateral ligament repaired in his right elbow.
The injury forced him to miss the final two months of last year. He made is last start with the Cincinnati Reds on July 28 and then went on the disabled list.
Prior to that, Dempster was 3-7 in 22 games with the Reds including 20 starts. Dempster was released by the Reds in November.
Dempster said his rehab program is going well and he hopes to be pitching again this season.
"It's a long process, but I feel tremendous and it's great throwing again with no pain," he said. "I'm throwing the ball at 105 feet, and my arm feels brand new. The biggest thing for me is to not come back too early. I want to pitch and I want to help the team, but it won't help anybody if I come back too early and get hurt again.
"Aug. 4 is my target, but there isn't anything wrong with waiting and making sure everything is right."
Dempster said Wednesday's news caps off a great off-season for him.
"Other than being injured, this has been the best off-season for me," he said. "I got married and my wife is so thrilled to be going to Chicago. It's a great city, great fans, and this team is young and hungry. It's not just a contender - this is a team that is never going to cut payroll. They want to win and win now.
"This situation is pretty cool."